Advent 12: Holy waiting…

Photo by Shane Aldendorff on

This advent, we remember again the fact that much of our spiritual life is lived in limbo because this season is about waiting.

We know this, but perhaps it might be usefuly once again to think about it again. Our waiting is perhaps too coloured by what we know to be coming- we think of advent as merely a countdown to Christmas, not as a season in itself.

We forget about the business of holy waiting.

What do I mean by this?

Well, we know about waiting. Here in Britain, we pride ourselves in being good waiters – we stand in orderly queues, patiently waiting for whatever we feel to be worth it and lots that is not.


Behind suburban fences

Middle England retires

Many minor offences

Fuel artificial fires

We grind teeth (and gears)

Wait for lights to go green

We wait out our years

Wondering what it all means

We seek petty distraction

Wait for ships to come in

He waits for her

And she waits for him


Meanwhile, in places not so far away, other kinds of waiting are taking place;


They wait at the border

Wait for the war

Wait for the sirens

For the shells to fall

In towns without rooftops

They wait behind walls

For men dressed in khaki

To kick down their doors

They raise up our faces

To the bright morning sky

Some slip cold embraces

Some people will die


I say this not so we count our good fortunes – I assmume that we do this already – but rather to help us remember that life is fleeting and fragile, and so our waiting should be used sparingly, lest our waiting is wasted.

This kind of holy waiting has no certainty, no guarantee, rather it serves as a spiritual practice, for the only waiting worth the time is that which has at the centre of it a hope of life, like pregnancy.


But from the curve of a woman

From the eye of a child

From where no-one expected

Things could be reconciled

That in ordinary spaces

What was far now lies close

And hope falls on places

Where people wait most

So smooth out the mountain

Make crooked roads straight

Let love pour like fountains

On we who still wait

2 thoughts on “Advent 12: Holy waiting…

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